The new Emperor is a viola player

The new Emperor of Japan, Naruhito, is committed to his music – particularly to playing his own instrument, the viola.

In an essay for a concert booklet, Naruhito once wrote: ‘I’m starting to understand the role of viola, which doesn’t stand out, but (the) harmony becomes lonesome without it. … It’s a joy to have chosen the viola as a friend through which I could meet people and play music together.’

So who’s the king of instruments now?

photo: AP

share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
    • There are video clips on YouTube that show him playing in the Gakushuin University alumni orchestra, where one article noted that he has continued to play two concerts each year to this day. (I’m not sure whether he will continue as Emperor, but I suspect he would like to if at all possible.) I’ve seen photos of him performing in quartets on two occasions, at diplomatic galas in 2004 and 2008, but those appear to have been invitation-only events.

      I haven’t found any video clips that show him playing any kind of solo line, either in a recital or chamber music.

  • I was going to post something about this aspect of his life. He came to our very first Lionel Tertis viola competition and workshop on the Isle of Man, in 1980, with one of his mentors, a Dr Fuji.

  • The new imperial era is called “Reiwa”, meaning order and harmony. Sounds consistent with Emperor Naruhito’s plausible view of the viola’s usual function in musical textures.

  • “So who’s the king of instruments now?”

    Perhaps a more relevant question would be “what is the instrument of kings now?”

  • My Japanese is extremely rusty, but here goes: omedeto, sensei, on your succession to the throne.
    As for your viola playing – gambatte o kudasai!

  • The new Emperor played the viola when studying at Oxford, and so presumably had started learning the instrument long before. A love of classical music runs in the family. His mother is an accomplished pianist. During his father’s reign, many musicians were invited for tea at the Palace, often performing with the Empress. The now former Emperor’s cousin Prince Takamado was extremely interested in classical music and would often be seen at concerts. Prior to his untimely death at age 47, he was the Honorary President of Japanese Amateur Orchestras.

    • You mean his wife Michiko who’s a decent pianist. ( btw, she was the first commoner and Christian to marry a Japanese royal ) I don’t think his mom ( Empress Kojun ) was, tho she had many hobbies.

  • Viola, altviool, bratsche, czy po prostu altówka jako instrument muz. łagodzi obyczaje u ludzi .Grając na altówce jesteśmy w centrum muzycznego dzieła i mamy możliwość oceniania i dopasowania się do innych. Polecam więc grę na altówce każdemu – nie tylko cesarzowi.

  • >